Five on Friday

::: 1 ::: 

First off - my mom turned SIXTY yesterday!!!! She and my dad are celebrating down in Florida but I'm so excited to see her tonight to welcome her into her next decade. She is my best friend, role model, life support, and all around idol and I am so beyond thankful for her every minute of every day. 
::: 2 ::: 

Holy Shit Black Friday/Cyber Monday. I'm financially exhausted. Anyone feel the same? We have SO much going on in December and it just feels like we are throwing money left at right out the window. We aren't being too stupid with all of the purchases, but it feels like hundreds of dollars are being spent every day and it gets a little suffocating! 
::: 3 ::: 

 Image result for island christmas nancy
I just bought this book to read for December. I need something SUPER light and airy and fun to read, and Nancy Thayer never disappoints for me. 
::: 4 ::: 

Last Saturday, my parents and sisters, along with Joel's parents, headed downtown to do the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights. We managed to pick a perfect weather day for it (like 45 degrees), and everything worked out pretty seamlessly for traveling with such a big group. 

The lights are spectacular, they do such a great job, and for it to be a free zoo and light display, is pretty incredible. 


You don't end up seeing a ton of animals (it's cold, and dark), but Leo's still talking about the two lions he did see, so it wasn't a total bust.

We had a nice dinner at Stella Barra afterwards and had everyone tucked into their beds before 8:30. It was a great evening spent.


::: 5 ::: 
This weekend we have our first ever  Black Tie charity event on Saturday night. I'm really excited for it - although, I hope it lives up to the hype in my mind. The money raised goes to a historical landmark (and the arts) in our community, so that part I really like and there will be an auction, whiskey tasting, and performance - along with wine and dancing....so it shouldn't disappoint. We have quite a few friends going, so it should be pretty special. I'll try to report back sooner than later here!



Thanksgiving Recap

This is late - I know everyone is well over Thanksgiving and on to the next and best, but I need to recap it for myself, so hang in there with me! 


Thursday morning we dropped the kids off early at my parents so that Joel and I could meet friends to run in the Turkey Trot. I've been running them (with 2 exceptions) for the last 14 years! Isn't that insane? 

Funny enough, this one was one of my favorites. The weather was just cold enough that it felt appropriate for Thanksgiving (30), but not freezing that the run sucked. 

We had tons of fun, Joel came in 8th, I had a few really fast miles (10:17!), and after we celebrated with all of our friends, we headed back home to get everyone ready. 

We picked up my parents around 10:30, and we all shipped off to Western Springs to celebrate the day.

Most of the day was spent drinking champagne, hanging out with cousins, eating pizza bread and cheese, and just enjoying being together. 



When we sat down at the table - with all 46 of us - all of the adults went around to say what they were thankful for.....and.....probably half cried.

After dessert, we put the kids Christmas jammies on, loaded back in to the car, and headed home. 


This is my Grandma, with most of her Great Grand Children......I think 5 are missing from this picture....

It was the perfect day, truly, and I am so beyond Thankful. 



This year, more than ever. For my family, our health, our safety, our home, and our future. 

I love that lantern! An Elegant DIY Thanksgiving Tablescape | theglitterguide.com

Wishing your family the most wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season.


Drew - Month 11

 1 month ::: 2 months ::: 3 months ::: 4 months::: 5 months::: 6 months ::: 7 months ::: 8 months ::: 9 months ::: 10 months ::: 
Weight: I would guess somewhere pretty north of 20lbs. After starting most of your life as a tiny little pixie, you've sure caught up. You have some pretty adorable thigh rolls and an adorable sweet little belly. 

Clothes: You are growing out of clothes faster than I can keep up with! You are steadily in 12 month clothes and can probably think about 12-18 months sizing sooner than later. You are in a size 2 shoe and 4 diaper, although 5's work too! 
Nicknames: Drewbie, Drewbs, and Drewbo.

Sleep: This month you cut your other two top teeth bringing you to a total of 6. Your other bottom two teeth are starting to cut too. 

Schedule: Nothing major has changed with your schedule this month but we are inching closer to cutting your morning nap. 

6:55am - We wake you up most mornings with an 8oz bottle
7:30am - breakfast
  9:00am- nap
10:15am- Have to wake you
11am- Bottle #2 
10:30-1:00pm - play & lunch while we are out and about
  1:00pm - 3:00pm - Nap
3:15/3:30pm - Bottle #2.5 (trying to phase this out) but you're getting a half bottle for the time being
3:30-5pm - play/bath
5:30pm- Dinner -  I try to feed you while Leo is watching a show, and then when we all sit down at dinner, you will sit with us and chew on a MumMum or some yogurt/veggie melts
6:30pm-Bottle #3
7pm - Bed
Health:  You and Leo had a tiny cold that really ended up lingering as more of a cough. It didn't really slow either one of you down which we were thankful for. 
 Crying:  It remains true - you are the easiest, sweetest, happiest baby I've ever been around. Honestly.
Feeding: You love eating - it's a joy to watch you! And biggest success - we introduced wheat to you and you passed with a flying colors! We were a little nervous with your oat allergy but you haven't had a problem and it has introduced a whole new category of food to you this month - whole wheat pasta, bread, and puffs! 

You are also getting better with your water sippy cup and can suck a pouch down in just a few minutes which makes snacks on the go a TON easier.

The only food you don't really like is avocado or tart fruit. Otherwise - you eat just about anything and everything.

Likes: You like anything that you can stand at and push around as you have learned to walk with assistance this month. You love playing in the playroom with Leo, getting into all of his toys, standing up at the kitchen, and making lots of noise. You love cars, babies, and anything that you can put into your mouth. 

You LOVE soft material - from throw blankets to dog beds to dads sweaters, if it's soft, you lay your sweet cheek on it and rest your head and it's about the cutest thing in the world. 

Dislikes: You don't love getting your diaper changed and turn like a nutty alligator when you get your clothes changed. 
Milestones:  You took 3 unassisted steps two days shy of 11 months, and then did the same thing yesterday. It's crazy! We were all sitting down at the kitchen table and you were playing in the living room standing at the ottoman. You took 3 steps over to the end table to find some magnatiles and I started screaming "oh my gosh, oh my gosh,"....Daddy thought you were in trouble and flew over to ,you but missed catching your steps, and then Leo spent ten minutes mocking me yelling "oh my gosh, oh my gosh....." 

You blow kisses, wave, clap on command, say Mama, Dada, baba, Hi, and love to mimic when Leo screams or barks at you. 

Places You’ve Gone: No where wild this month - but you celebrated your first Halloween, and got to enjoy all the fun activities that come along with it! 

Postpartum: 3/4 pounds away.....Really hoping I'm back to where I started by your birthday but this is going to be a tough month to diet. Wish me luck girlfriend.
Leo:   I love watching you two play together and every month gets better and better. You bounce up and down when he walks in to the room, or if we go to wake him up from nap - you two melt us. 


Thursday Thoughts

::: Well, I made my first trip to urgent care this week as an adult with a pretty nasty cut that ended up needing 4 stitches. I was making Pumpkin Turkey Chili and had opened one of the cans of northern beans and had been draining them in the sink. I popped the lid up and then went to go help the kids. Came back to the sink, went to grab the can, and sliced the crud out of my thumb. I knew instantly I had to get stitches, so I called my mom and about 20 minutes later was driving myself to the doctor. Thankfully it was really fast, not horribly painful, and I was back home before the kids were even up from naps. It could've been much worse! 

Only problem with it - it totally ruined my bowling plans for Friday night! Joel and I had planned a bowling date, but that went through the window unfortunately. 

::: Before I had cut my thumb - I did make Natalie's Broccoli Ceaser salad - and it did not disappoint. I've had it almost all week for lunches. I ended up buying pre-made chicken from Trader Joe's and added shredded carrots and kale to her recipe to beef it up a little. It's a great salad if you're in need! 

::: I've had my gym on a 1 year maternity leave and for the most part it's been great. I wasn't working out in the early part of the year, and then this summer I was really lucky to be able to play tennis and get plenty of walks and runs outside. Now though, it's cold out, and I'm missing my gym something FIERCE! I only have to wait 6 weeks, I an know I can do it, but it's driving me nuts lately to not be able to get solid workouts in.

50 Funniest Healthy Living Someecards | Skinny Mom | Where Moms Get the Skinny on Healthy Living

::: If you follow me on insta (@teatimewithtess) you probably see my insta stories for the damn Deer farm we live on right now. It's mating season and we have had our FAIR share of mating righttttttt in the backyard. These boys are not shy and not very polite either.

::: Joel is trying to convince me to get ride of our cable package. We really only watch about 6-7 channels, and he claims there are plenty of other services we could be using. Do you have any that you recommend? My number one concern is Bravo, naturally. 

::: Speaking of that - major shout out to Jodi who commented to tell me that Freeform wasn't playing this year on Freeform. I had no joke been looking for it for days on my DVR. I did find it - it'll be on AMC and from what I can see will first show on 11/26 at 7pm! 

:: We are decking the halls this weekend! If you couldn't tell from my last post - I'm ready to officially get into the spirit!

pin | bellaxlovee ✧☾

Hope you are having a great week and with an even better weekend forecast!


Holiday Bucket List

I was going to title this one "winter" bucket list - but winter is a whole other ball game....and for me...is one that starts after the holiday season (around January 7th-ish). 

ha ha ..... love it!

So from now, until the New Year, I want to try and get in as many festive things as I possibly can. Our weekends are already filled, but there are a few things I'm really looking forward to getting in this year, and some that may just not happen, but I figure if I write them down, chances are at least a little improved that we get to them!

::: Turkey Trot 5k :::

I have been running these (I've missed 2) for now almost 13 years! It's the perfect way to start Thanksgiving morning - and this year should be no different. Right now the forecast is looking good - chilly but not horrible - so Joel and I are planning on dropping the kids off at my house and then meeting up with some friends to get our run in. 


and I doubt this year I'll run with Ben Affleck ;) 

::: Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo :::

Image result for lincoln park zoo lights

When Joel and I lived in the city - well before we were married - we would always have a date night at Zoo Lights. You bundle up, taking a spiked hot chocolate through the zoo, and just take in the beautiful decorations of the entire zoo. It's really spectacular. This year we are going to take the kids, both sets of grandparents, and my sisters. We're planning on going early, having dinner in the city, and then changing into Christmas jammies and driving home. 

::: Gingerbread House building :::

Styling #typography #photography

This - along with making and decorating Christmas cookies - is something I love doing with my girlfriends and kids. It's the perfect play date. Mom's can enjoy a glass of champagne and the kids actually stay somewhat busy crafting. Normally after 15 minutes, the moms end up taking over, but it's a really fun activity.

::: ELF begins! :::

Image result for elf movie

Joel and I LOVE this movie. I've been trying to find it on Freeform to record it, but I haven't spotted it yet. It's my favorite movie to watch the night before Thanksgiving - and then a few more times before Christmas too. I'm hoping I can get Leo into a few Christmas movies this year too - but I'd be surprised if he could sit through this one.  

::: Festival of Lights in Downtown Crystal Lake :::

comfort & joy

This is a really fun night in CL. We did it last year - and it's so funny - everything seems way more fun this year since I'm not pregnant! Ha! But, this little parade is downtown, Santa makes an appearance and a ton of our friends with kids are going to go. I think afterwards we'll all plan to meet up for pizza and drinks which makes for an even better parade.

::: Brunch with Santa :::

This is something I have done since I was a little kid. My parents country club puts together a pretty nice brunch, everyone gets pretty dressed up, and then the kids get to meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus and take home a little gift. 

::: Donating ::::

Thanksgiving Style DIY

My favorite way to donate during the holiday season is to pick an Angel to shop for. I love being able to adopt a specific child in need and cover some basics and provide a few special things to make their holiday season a little bright too. I'm hoping Leo can get the idea of this too and start this tradition with him as well. 

::: High Tea :::

This was a little easier when we were living in LA, because we lived so close to so many nice hotels that offered the perfect high tea spread. Now, we have to go into the city, so my mom and I talked about meeting my sisters downtown for a kid free, holiday afternoon which sounds pretty lovely - so I'm hoping we can get to it!  

:::: Matching & Christmas Jammies :::

I love having the kids in Christmas PJs, and I may love them matching even more. I tried to find some pretty gender neutral ones for them to match in, and then they each got a more silly, Christmas-y pair too to wear as well. 

I'll also be really excited to see what school does this holiday season for Leo too. It's fun time of the year, and I think I grow to love the holidays more and more with kids getting a little older and really getting into it too. 

I'd love to know if there are any traditions I should be adding to my list! 

Anais Lee's sketch makes me super excited for the holidays! The First Steps of Hand-Lettering: Concept to Sketch - Class Feed - Skillshare


Catching Up

::: Every year, my moms side of the family spends a day baking a bunch of apple pies and then we freeze them for all of the holidays. Ironically, none of us are that big of pie fans, but it's become a tradition over the last ten or so years - so there's no stopping now. And it's a really fun day for all of the family to be together before the holidays begin




::: Have you listened to the Cat and Nat - podcast? I think it's new, there are only 5 episodes out, but I love it. It's all about how they became self made millionaires.  I binged listened to all 5 yesterday while I washed all of our interior windows. This weekend we are going to tackle all of the outside ..... which should really be a thrill.

Image result for cat and nat podcast

::: Did I ever post any finished basement pictures? We ended up doing two coats of Revere Peweter - and it really brightened up the space. Ideally, I'd like to put down some large carpet remenants just to warm the space, but for now - we're pausing. In the new year, Joel and his dad are going to drywall the rest of the exposed walls and are going to build a little wet bar downstairs too. 


::: Can you believe Christmas is kind of around the corner? Which also means Drew is going to turn ONE!? How is that possible? She's about to walk, she's saying a lot of little words (at random times) - mama, dada, baba, and hi....and overall and most importantly she is just a delight of a human being. She has the happiest, sweetest energy, and we couldn't imagine a day without her. 

::: Because I'm crazy, I've decided to host a little birthday brunch for our baby girl, as well as host a formal Christmas Eve dinner for +30 people!  Ha! You may not be hearing much from me in the coming weeks.

::: Along with having a super jam packed calendar - of really fun stuff I do want to recount here - I'm trying to get our family year book made, Drew's birthday book created, and finish a 2019 family calendar for everyone. I've been spending a lot of my free time on Shutterfly and it's freaking time consuming. I may back-burner the year book and baby book for January and just take it off my list. In fact. I think I've just decided that's the plan.

::: I have always been a hater of the Pumpkin Spice Latte trend....but this year....I'm kind of loving them. They're the perfect sweet, spicy, coffee-y deliciousness. Thankfully they're expensive as all get out or I'd be getting them way more frequently ;) 

Image result for pumpkin spice latte

::: It's taking everything in me not to decorate for Christmas this weekend! I know it's early, but I love it, so I'd rather enjoy it for a longer period of time. We are rocking Christmas music, and I took all of the Halloween stuff down, so I think next Saturday will be the day we deck the halls! 

Lit Boxwood Home D├ęcor Collection

::: This is a LONG shot, but does anyone know how to convert an image saved as a NEF to a JPEG file without having photoshop or lightroom? 

::: I made the easiest dinner this week - Crock Pot Buffalo cups. I served them with a broccoli slaw and a creamy blue cheese dressing. 

The next day, we were out of butter lettuce cups, so I served it as a salad over arugula and loved it. Couldn't be easier either - chicken breast in the crockpot with water until it shreds, then mix in Frank's Buffalo sauce. That's it.

::: Leo is on a major art project kick. He loves practicing with scissors, painting, coloring, and taping. It's been fun for both of us - and really nice when I can get him into something while I'm cooking dinner or having a glass of wine. He did dot markers with my mom this week - and this little art project really impressed me! 


::: Do you ever get wine from Trader Joe's? We have always had great success with TJ's private label. They used to sell their brut champagne for $9.99 and I swear to you it tasted better than most $25/30 bottles. They recently upped the price to $14.99. BUT - another great $10 buck wine is this one. I had it at a girlfriends last week and can't wait to go stock up.